Winnie hails Meer

LATE activist Fatima Meer's house should be declared a national heritage site, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said on Saturday at her state funeral at the Durban exhibition centre.

LATE activist Fatima Meer's house should be declared a national heritage site, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said on Saturday at her state funeral at the Durban exhibition centre.

"I feel she was never recognised for the work she did," Madikizela-Mandela said. "I will work for her home to be declared a national heritage site. May her soul rest in peace."

Meer, 81, died on Friday afternoon after suffering a stroke two weeks ago.

An emotional Madikizela-Mandela told about 200 people gathered to pay their last respects of their special friendship and how they helped each other during the struggle.

"This is a very emotional moment ... Fatima represented my world as a friend, mother and comrade. My world was complete with her," she said.

Madikizela-Mandela said during the struggle days Meer would look after her children while her former husband, Nelson Mandela, was in prison and when she was detained.

"When I met Fatima I was struck by the wonderful person she was. The role Ismail (Meer's husband) and Fatima played is one of the enduring struggles of the movement," she said.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who met Meer in 1960 at the University of Fort Hare, said Meer's death left a void and her life should be celebrated for her bravery.

With tears in his eyes, Meer's younger brother, Farouk, said this was a very difficult time for the family.

"Her death is extremely difficult to bear. She was a caring person. She loved people. She was happy to work tirelessly so that the lives of people could be changed (and) these things made her who she was," he said.

Farouk also called on the government to do something about tenders that are falling into the wrong hands.

"There is a young man leading the country to disaster, making a mockery of our legacy. Somebody has to restore pride on the liberation of our movement," he said without specifically naming anyone.

Farouk also called on his close friend and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to do something about government funds falling into the wrong hands.

Meer's activism started at the age of 17 in 1946 when she shared the platform with anti-apartheid leader, Yusuf Dadoo to mobilise support for passive resistance.

In 1949 she worked tirelessly to improve race relations between Indian and black people in Durban.

She married Ismail in 1951 and they had three children, Shamin, Rashid and Shehnaz. She was buried at the Brooke Street Cemetery in Durban. - Sapa

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